AUSTIN -- From a selfish standpoint, it figured to be a good night of Rock N' Roll in the photo pit in front of the stage when Kyng singer/guitarist Eddie Veliz pointed to the SAMME upon making his stage entrance.
More than 3 1/2 hours later, after Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society had closed the book on the Austin chapter of its tour filled with lightning-fast riffs and a poignant tribute, the exuberant reaction of the approximately 2,000 fans that comprised the 2,200-capacity Emo's East on Friday night indicated just how vibrant it was.
Joined by Wovenwar making its South Texas debut as the middle of the three acts, Black Label Society unveiled a new album and different members not only from when it was the direct support to Judas Priest's Epitaph U.S. tour kickoff in October 2011 at the AT&T Center, but also from last summer's Gigantour in Corpus Christi (see SAMME coverage of both in blue at bottom). Dario Lorina, formerly of Lizzy Borden, has joined Wylde on guitar, while former In This Moment drummer Jeff Fabb is now behind the kit. John "J.D." DeServio remains unchanged on bass.
Black Label Society, which will be among the 60 acts playing Slipknot's Knotfest that takes place Oct. 24-26 in San Bernardino, Calif., released Catacombs of the Black Vatican on April 8. But rather than mention the CD or try to promote it in any way, Wylde preferred to let his guitar -- and occasional gorilla-like chest thumping -- do the talking.
Black Label's 15-plus-year existence is long enough to signify that Wylde's music is reaching a younger generation (see photo at left) -- a generation whose parents still remember initially becoming aware of him as Ozzy Osbourne's guitarist on 1988's No Rest For The Wicked. Yet Wylde has repeatedly proven he can captivate a crowd of all ages in more ways than one. For instance:
- Nary a person headed out for a smoke or to the beer lines during his 10-minute guitar solo
- Whether he's rocking brand new tunes such as Heart of Darkness and Damn The Flood, recent blisters Godspeed Hellbound and Overlord or ending with his staple Stillborn, Wylde sings and plays with a controlled ferocity other singer/guitarists would have difficulty pulling off as cleanly
- If you miss In This River -- Wylde's piano tribute to the late Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott -- you may as well have not shown up in the first place
The only time Wylde spoke to the crowd at length was while introducing his bandmates halfway through the set. At show's end, his customary salute after the band's final bow (see slideshow at top) was accompanied by hundreds of raised horns -- a tribute Black Label had rightfully earned.
Black Label Society set list: The Beginning . . . At Last, Funeral Bell, Heart of Darkness, Suicide Messiah, My Dying Time, Damn The Flood, guitar solo, Godspeed Hellbound, Overlord, Angel of Mercy, In This River, The Blessed Hellride, Fire It Up, Concrete Jungle, Stillborn
Wovenwar was playing one of its first shows as a band -- at least, mostly, in name. One of the night's best moments came when Veliz encouraged the crowd during Kyng's opening set to pick up Wovenwar's debut self-titled CD at the show even though it isn't hitting stores and online until Tuesday. It was a testament to how much the three bands must be enjoying one another's friendships and camaraderie on tour, especially given that Veliz went Kyng's entire set without even mentioning his own band's latest release Burn The Serum, which dropped April 15. But we'll take care of that for him here.
If most of the guys in Wovenwar looked familiar, they should. Guitarists Nick Hipa and Phil Sgrosso, bassist Josh Gilbert and drummer Jordan Mancino were in As I Lay Dying before the demise of that band last year due to the eventual six-year incarceration of singer Tim Lambesis for trying to hire a hitman to murder his estranged wife.
While Lambesis toils in prison, the rest of the band has teamed with vocalist Shane Blay to produce a stellar rock and metal debut record that should, in due time, garner them enough fans strictly on the strength of their latest musical efforts. Unfair as it may be, it will be a while before they're able to shed "the other guys" label from their previous band. That was evidenced moments before they took the stage Friday, as people in the front row inquired about who Wovenwar was and quickly nodded an "Oh yeah" upon learning a quick synopsis of their background. But with more solid performances like Friday's, in addition to its 15-song CD, Wovenwar should be able to shed the asterisk that accompanies its identity sooner than later.
Kyng kicked things off after having made three appearances in San Antonio in the past 11 months. The Los Angeles trio opened for Sevendust and 10 Years last September at Backstage Live, was direct support to Lacuna Coil at the Slinging Ink Tattoo Expo in April outside the Wonderland of Americas Mall, then joined Black Label Society at the second annual River City Rockfest outside the AT&T Center over Memorial Day weekend.
For related SAMME coverage, see the "Suggested" links in blue below.
It pays to subscribe for free to the San Antonio Metal Music Examiner, no matter where you live. Do so at the top of this article for exclusive interviews, concert announcements, reviews, and all things metal. You can also get your fix via the SAMME Facebook page, follow along on Twitter or StumbleUpon, and check out his YouTube channel.